We are all operating on assumptions made decades ago, sometimes 20 years ago. Sometimes even 50 years ago. These assumption drive public policy and debate, and inevitably lead to disaster. Vietnam war, racists, all viewed through the lens of 1960. People acquire their world view in their early 20s and seem to carry it with them throughout their life.
In going over the less accomplished parts of my past (say 99% of it), I noticed that I have a had a lot of contact with hookers. Not necessarily as a client, customer, trick or tricked, but just through chance. Or maybe there was some inner light guiding me, I don’t know. When I was just a boy, I found a copy of the Happy Hooker alongside my father’s not very well hidden Penthouse magazine collection. This little trove of literature prepared me for my adult relations with the opposite sex, which were frustratingly still some ways off.
Between the Penthouse forum, the Penthouse models, and Xaviera Hollander, I developed a larger than life image of prostitutes as women who were players, with the libido of men and a touch of the mercenary. I would wonder about these exotic women, what they looked like, how it would be to meet one, and why there weren’t any at all in my little suburban neighborhood. (In hindsight, there are almost certainly were – they just weren’t apparent to little old me.)
It was unfortunate for me that I would later get to know one of those very expensive call girls that I used to read about. The unfortunate thing being she was the love of my life and I had no idea.
Aside from Helena, a former hooker (so she said) who was married to a former basketball player, I was still pretty much unacquainted with hookers of any stripe when I met Lorraine in New York. While she was not a hooker then, she had a rather mysterious background, which only added to her allure. I was young and lost, with vague dreams of making it in New York. I was staying with Lorraine’s friend Anita, who I knew from college. Anita was teaching English to mostly young Hispanic boys. At least those were the only ones she took home to sleep with. Anita’s evening were spent at clubs, in a mostly gay circle, led by an elegant looking, but deeply insecure guy with long flowing blond mains called Aston. His main claim to fame was that he had fucked everyone who was anyone, though he was still nobody himself. (I still remember a girl coming up to me in one of the clubs asking “are you somebody?” Those kinds of experiences didn’t endear me to the city, though she was probably from elsewhere herself.) Aston also claimed to be the driving force behind Deborah Harry and Blondie, though as far as I could tell, they just all lived together at one time.
Back to Lorraine. I heard about her for a couple years before meeting her. Anita would tell me stories in our college town of her mysterious and stunning girlfriend. She had a TV program for a short while, was genius level intelligence, flighty and gorgeous – prone to disappear for months at a time. Her boyfriend, according to the legend as I was told, was “some Mafia guy” with lots of money.
So when I heard that this mythical creature was coming to visit our place in NY, I perked up.
At that age, I always felt I deserved better. Somehow, life had overlooked me and I still hadn’t attracted the perfect woman. When Lorraine showed up, she was indeed the perfect woman. Everybody agreed. She turned heads at the best clubs – people wanted to know who she was. She attracted paparazzi like flies, just to tease them. They would go crazy taking her picture, and then wonder who the heck she was.
So we all went out to a club opening. I don’t remember the name of the club. I do remember that a very hot singer named Phoebe Legere was performing there. I couldn’t catch her eye either. Well, that’s not true. I did catch her eye, but she looked at me with contempt. In hindsight, fair enough. I was blond, blue-eyed, and hopelessly suburban looking – everything she was probably trying to escape. So I hung around, and chatted with the friendlier bridge and tunnel crowd. Until I noticed I was alone.
Not really alone. There were still plenty of people in the club. But the group I arrived with (all named above) were gone. It’s not a nice feeling being ditched, even when you don’t especially care for the people who ditched you. I was feeling bad about it.
Little did I know, they were all outside the club helping Anton vomit in the alley. Seems the gay stud who had done everyone who mattered, and who had a dick, had finally met the woman that would be his hetero partner. That, of course, was Lorraine. Yet, the stud was a bundle of nerves. He drank so much trying to steel himself that he got sick. So the gang was simultaneously pep-talking him and helping him puke so he could go back inside and consumate the deal with Lorraine.
Which, of course, left Lorraine alone in the club as well. She was probably wondering why she was ditched as well. Especially her of all people.
When Anton et al came back inside, Lorraine was gone. She had found me, and we tow deserted souls left the club together – wondering how we managed to lose the gang. We had a late coffee at one of those classic stainless steel diner cars, went back to Anita’s flat, and had sex. I was ecstatic. This was a woman far above my grade, and she was in bed with me. I was later to learn that she also had a genius IQ, was a brilliant writer, and out of this world creative. And she had an endless roll of $100 bills. What kind of dream was this?
This is where we skip ahead…
Lorrain left town a couple days later. Anton now hated me with a passion I didn’t quite grasp. His minions, therefore, now saw me as persona non grata. I was asked to leave Anita’s flat – which to this day is not only the dumpiest flat I have ever stayed at more than one night – it was also the dumpiest flat I have ever been evicted from.
One violent robbery, beating with a dildo and maybe 100 hours of long distance calls later, I was on a flight outta there, to LA to see my baby Lorraine.
To be continued…
I ran across the term today in a discussion of transgender issues, and it just strikes me as an oxymoron along the lines jumbo shrimp.
In my opinion, anybody with ambiguous genitalia would have to be a woman, by default. Simply because a man’s genitalia cannot be ambiguous. It is anything but.
My genitals have always known exactly what they wanted, without doubt, ambiguity or hesitation. Which is why they have a tendency to take charge over other parts of my body that should be running things, like the brain.
Quite possibly this was what W.B Yeats was referring to when he wrote::
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It takes balls to write a passage like that.
Facebook, the Ground Zero of shallow comments, disposable sincerity and vapid insights is abuzz with news of Nancy Reagan’s passing. And everybody says they are sorry. Or sad. Or that it’s a sad day. Whatever.
It’s not that I wished the woman ill. I didn’t wish her anything. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that I haven’t had a wish or a thought about Nancy Reagan for at least 20 years. I couldn’t have even said with any certainty that she was still alive. Until today. Now I am pretty sure she’s dead.
I am also pretty sure that most other people, even Americans, have been similarly unaware of Nancy Reagan’s comings and goings for the past 20 years. And that, even when she was First Lady, most of the people now expressing mourning and condolences to the world in general weren’t all that interested in her.
So why is everyone sorry and sad now?
I mean, she was 94 years old. How long is she supposed to live? 94 is a good stretch by almost any standard. I understand she had friends and family, and for them it’s going to be tough to say good-bye, of course. But for the rest of us? Why do we have to act sad when somebody who we never thought about dies at a comfortably old age in normal circumstances?
It smells of fake sincerity to me. Maybe it’s just politeness, but politeness would be saying that to her family members or close friends, who might actually be mourning. Just announcing to the world in general that one is sad, sorry, sympathetic strikes me as bullshit. Sorry.
Let’s bring it to celebrities who I do somewhat care about, like David Bowie. In his case, he died at what should have been a still-spry 69. And he died just after calling attention to himself by releasing new material. Which I think was planned on his part. The man didn’t want his death to be greeted by “Bowie? I wondered what happened to him.” Or worse, “Bowie was still alive?” He was a showman, and he wasn’t going to slink off the stage unnoticed.
So I was surprised, having just downloaded his new material. He was huge to me when I was a kid looking for role models, and I loved his music. So certainly I should have been as moved as the millions of people that went on Facebook to announce their sadness and proclaim his sorely missed genius. Mostly people who weren’t especially fans in the first place.
I could announce my feelings, but to do it in the cold emptiness of social media seems like puffery. That’s just me.
I won’t even get into how I despise Facebook birthday greetings.
Two big, stupid and violent Pollacks from East Detroit. Though that was never said, mostly because of the big and violent part. Because they were bigger than any of us, and older. And because they took us to a decrepit titty bar in Detroit before we had even entered high school. I remember only patches of when I was 15. A screwed up family life, drifting pseudo-friends and the recent discovery of drugs to take all that shit out of sight, if only for a while.
There are things I forgot because I wanted to, things I forgot because I drank to much one-dollar wine, and things that just didn’t matter enough to remember.
But I remember the little titty bar in Detroit.
It wasn’t called that, of course. It was called a “Gentlemen’s Club” on the sign – a fritzy neon thing hanging on a brick storefront in a crappy neighborhood. That was the likely the most expensive part of the decor. And it slightly set the building apart from every other crappy storefront in that crappy neighborhood, most of them boarded up – a place set apart from the rest of Detroit because the criminals were mostly white rather than black.
The violent Pollacks were called the Bukowski brothers. Actually, they weren’t even called that. Their name is among the memory casualties of that period. I just remember it was a Polish name with a -ski suffix, and sounded brutish. Bukowski will have to do for now – I’m sure Charles would’t mind. They weren’t even brothers, but we thought of them that way. They were close. They were both big, liked to drink and liked to fight. And, in hindsight, only rarely got laid. That may have had something to do with the fighting. Maybe they fucked each other.. who knows? That stuff was way beyond me at 15.
Instead of getting laid, they connected with their “little brother” Martin, who had moved to the more upscale Birmingham after living near them on the East Side. They adopted the bunch of us, and served as an unfortunate choice of father figures for many of us. They were an inspiration in ways. They had one of the greatest jobs we could imagine. They were garbagemen.
It wasn’t something I ever thought of doing, but they were making a few hundred dollars a day riding on the back of a truck for a few hours each morning. They didn’t have to sit down and buckle seat belts like the rest of us, they rode like cowboys hanging off the back of the beast. The companies were run by the mob and paid for by the city, using taxpayer funds. So they were paid well. They worked hard, but they worked about 4 hours a day. They could drink until late night, go to work, and then be back in bed by 8 am. When you’re 15 and life sucks, that sounds pretty good.
So one night they decided we needed to be introduced to tits, as we hadn’t actually seen many. They drove us an hour across town to the Gentleman’s Club. The neighborhood was unsafe even for adults, and the bar was certainly unsafe. But we were 15, and accompanied by two huge bruisers with one eye out for trouble.
When we walked in, one of the strippers and the bartender eyed us, and then looked at the brothers with what seemed like exasperation, “Mike…what are you doing…?”
Mike Bukowski ignored the comment greeted them with eyes slightly narrowed to preclude any further protests. Perhaps not wanting their dump smashed up, they shrugged and led us to a row of seats by the bar. The place seated maybe 20 people max, and there were 2 other customers. The bartender looked like he was going to say more, but he instead averted his eyes and then walked off. Maybe he didn’t care, or maybe he didn’t want to risk a confrontation. Mike did like a good fight.
And sure enough, this fresh faced white kid from the richer suburbs soon had a beer in his hand and 2 pairs of tits just across the bar. I was officially grown up now.
The girls weren’t exactly like the girls in my father’s Penthouse magazine collections, so sloppily hidden in the top of his closet. They were a bit worn looking, one looked old enough to be my mother. The most attractive one, and I am speaking relatively, had the breasts of a boy. And I like small breasts. I was just disappointed that my first exposure to breasts involved breasts that looked pretty much like my own.
Still, my mind was spinning. What if I could get laid tonight? I mean, these girls obviously fucked a lot. Wouldn’t a fresh faced boy be a change? With all the dregs that must walk into that bar, surely I would stand out. I could go back to Birmingham, no longer a virgin, but a man of the world who had just bedded a Detroit stripper.
It didn’t work out like that. For reasons I couldn’t then comprehend, the girls just weren’t into junior high school kids. But they danced, and one chatted up Mike next to me. And we drank beer.
Apart from the large turd carefully placed on top of the toilet seat in the men’s room, rendering it unusable, I remember little else of the night.
Except that I was not yet 16, and I had already been to a titty bar.
I grew up on movies where a hysterical woman could always be brought to her senses by a good slap or two. It was a movie cliche, and there was barely a movie star who didn’t slap at least a few of his female leads. The slap was usually accompanied by a serious and controlled “get a hold of yourself” or “calm down!”
In a moment of desperation once, I tried it. I wasn’t in a slapping mood, not even angry. But the image from so many movies popped into my head. I had already tried everything else, even reason. I didn’t think it would work, but how could I know for sure unless I tried?
It didn’t work.
In fact, it more than didn’t work. I learned there was a whole new level of hysteria above the usual “God, please take me anywhere in the universe that is away from this lunatic woman.” In fact, I don’t think the universe is big enough for a hyper-slap-charged hysteria.
Things got really ugly. I was kicking myself being such an idiot – using stuff from movies in real life is the very essence of stupidity. I didn’t know what else to do after that. So I left. But even that was not easy.
She was in full banshee mode, and did her insane best to block the door. I still got out. As crazy hysterical as she was, she retained enough of her senses not to chase me outside the flat without at least a bit of make-up, and maybe some clothes. That gave me plenty of time.
I ran out of the building into the cool San Francisco air. Free at last. As I neared the crest of the hill on Polk Street leading away from the apartment, I heard a familiar voice screaming, “You can’t run from me, you son of a bitch! I whored for you! I whored for you!”
A few people turned around to look where the craziness was coming from. I kept my eyes ahead, and picked up my pace just a bit until I was over the hill and out of sight.
Last I heard, she was advising the US government and others on matters of internet security.
A little trick I learned some time back, and it’s fun to practice on everyone you associate with. Especially assholes, or simply powerful people who intimidate you (who are probably assholes as well, but you’re too nervous to pick up on that). This brings them right down to earth:
For some people, this unfortunately isn’t much of a leap. In those cases, though, it just makes your job that much easier. Whoever it is, think about them until they fit into an 8 year-old’s body, Picture their expressions, and picture their gestures and moods, on an 8 year-old. It’s surprisingly easy, because people don’t really change all that much. We acquire the wrinkles, the gravitas, the baldness… but any clever child could mimic us with devastating results. Thank God there are so few clever children.
Once you project an 8 year-old onto the mannerisms, that daunting, impressive, intimidating figure becomes very easy to deal with. I mean, there are very few 8 year-olds in the world who can’t be dealt with and managed. Even the most difficult ones are transparent to a fault. And none of them are intimidating.
When you deal with the 8 year-old, you’ll suddenly find the 41 year-old (or 61 year-old) opening up to you. This is because you have addressed their core, their true inner being. Their inner (yuck) child.
Try it. It’s the key to just about anyone.